New research sheds light on Drug abuse in Nigeria and its causes

Nigeria’s drug abuse problem recently captured headlines with the public burning of 20,000 kilograms of illicit drugs. The move is the latest call to action in the government’s “War Against Drug Abuse” campaign and points to the seriousness of the problem.

New research sheds light on Drug abuse in Nigeria and its causes

Now, new findings from a January 2021 study in the journal Public Health Review (PHR) shed more light on the nature of this public health issue. The eye-opening research reveals, among other things, what drugs are commonly abused, reasons why people engage in substance abuse, and risk factors for drug abuse and addiction.

The most commonly abused drugs

According to the January study, the top three most abused drugs, in order of popularity, are: cannabis, cocaine, and codeine. After that, other commonly abused drugs include amphetamine, heroin, diazepam, and tramadol.

Reasons why Nigerians engage in substance abuse

People may use illicit drugs for many different reasons, as the researchers in the PHR study found. They analyzed 11 separate studies that reported on common reasons for drug abuse in Nigeria. What they discovered was that Nigerians engage in substance abuse to:

  • enhance physical performance
  • feel pleasure
  • sleep better or relax
  • experiment out of curiosity
  • stay awake
  • relieve feelings of stress, anxiety, and/or frustration
  • cope with unemployment
  • take advantage of easy access to drugs.

Risk Factors for Drug Abuse and Addiction

The PHR researchers also looked at 19 studies to glean a better understanding of the most common risk factors for drug abuse and addiction in Nigeria. Many of these same factors commonly occur in other countries also.

Being young (35 years of age and younger), male, poor, and unemployed were frequently reported factors. Anther common risk factor: coming from a broken home. (A “broken home” might mean a polygamous family background, parental neglect, or exposure to drug abuse in the home.) A low education level and peer pressure—hanging around friends who used drugs—also raised one’s chances of a drug abuse problem.

Such findings may lead to more effective interventions to address Nigeria’s drug abuse problem. For now, it remains a serious public health concern. As the first-ever, large-scale, national drug use survey found in 2018, one in five Nigerians who had used a drug in the past year were suffering from drug-related disorders.

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